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SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH DOWN TO 3

The Salt Lake City Board of Education wants the public to take part in picking a new superintendent of schools.

The field of original candidates has been narrowed to three people who will be available for one hour each to answer questions posed by the public and press.Richard Kendell, superintendent of the Davis County School District, was among those applying but just withdrew his application.

"I was honored to be invited, and I did have an interview with the board. They were a delightful group, but since then, over the weekend, I've visited with my own board and my own family at some length," Kendell said. "I have come to the conclusion that a move for me right now is not my first choice. I'm going to stay put."

Vying for the job are Darline Robles, superintendent of the Montebello Unified School District, Montebello, Calif.; Victor Herbert, superintendent of Phoenix Union School Distirct, Phoenix; and Carl Smith, super-intendent of the Brandywine School District, Claymont, Del.

All the public question-and-answer sessions will be from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the Salt Lake City School District Administration Building, 440 E. 100 South.

The sessions will be as follows: Robles on Wednesday, Sept. 14; Herbert, Friday, Sept. 16; and Smith on Monday, Sept. 19.

Mary Jo Rasmussen, school board president, said the open question-and-answer sessions were suggested by Karl Plath, a consultant the district used to shape the hiring process.

"We just wanted to have a real inclusive process," Rasmussen said. "It's in keeping with the site-based management, shared-governance philosophy our district has had for about 20 years."

Ninety-five people started out on the "active list," 32 completed the application process and the list was narrowed to seven. "We interviewed all seven candidates and came to this short list of four," Rasmussen said.

She said she hoped the board would reach a final decision "fairly quickly," perhaps as soon as late next week, but said she couldn't pinpoint a date.

The new superintendent will replace John Bennion who left to become a University of Utah professor. Dale Manning, the district's personnel administrator, currently is filling in as interim superintendent.